Category Archives: Zen Garage



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Cars For Hope, Cars For Dope, Cars With No Hope

Say Nope to Dope!

This feature will be broken down into the following parts:

– My Story.
– How I have supported Cars For Hope since 2011.
– Where were Cars For Hope when I needed them most?
– Building a better bridge.

My Story.

I’m 44 years old this year and I’ve just survived my darkest days to date. Last year I smoked an ounce of chronic marijuana a week (wake and bake 4.20AM-Midnight every day). I didn’t sleep in my bed. I pissed in empty soft drink bottles instead of using my toilet. I turned off social media and turned away friends who rang my doorbell. I spent a lot of time gaming and researching ways to kill myself. I attempted suicide towards the end of last year but I bailed out hard on the night I tried to actually go through with it. Call it a mid-life-crisis, but it was a hell of a lot more hardcore than any depression I’d ever felt in my younger years.

I’m a “rehab is for quitters” kinda guy. Seeing a therapist was something I never wanted to do as my preconception of them was rather pessimistic. My mother had to pick me up and make sure I attended the sessions, if anything therapy got me out of the house and closer to my mum, but it wasn’t enough.

Being told to go out and get some sun, or hop back on your bike and start riding, these were extremely logical tips on how to get better, but when you’re down in a hole you just can’t act on logic. Even if you wanted to save yourself you can’t. Absolutely nothing can help you get out.

I was advised by my therapist to see my GP. My GP freaked out when he saw how skinny I was (51kgs down from 60kgs), he then freaked out when I said I’d been having suicidal thoughts and have felt really down for the last 6–12 months. He had no option but to get me on antidepressants as 6–12 months of being down in his opinion was way too long left untreated. I’ve never wanted to be on meds, but I realised that I didn’t have any more power to help myself, and meds were the only way forward.

I’ve spent 6 months in therapy which I found more helpful than the psychologist I was recommended. I’m now only seeing my psychiatrist every 4 weeks or so to hone in my medicine (which is treating me for bipolar more than depression, though I have been diagnosed with having both). I’m not completely sober, but I’ve broken the bong and I’m now more sober than I’ve ever been in my entire adult life. Being straight is way more hardcore than being stoned, but I’m loving the clarity and my productivity so I intend to keep it up.

How I have supported Cars For Hope since 2011.

I first heard of Cars For Hope (CFH) in 2011 when I was setting up ZEN Garage Leichhardt. I checked out the CFH web site and felt that all of what I read was a bit vague so I called Berty out on it and the rest is history.

ZEN Garage was the only physical bricks and mortar shop you could buy CFH stickers from. We were also the only online shop selling them. Over the years we’ve proudly displayed banners and advertisements on our sites, forums and cars. We’ve sold tens of thousands of CFH stickers with all profits going to CFH. Some weeks we sold more CFH stickers than our own!

In 2013 Berty took a full time job with Motor Culture who shared an office space with us at ZEN Garage Leichhardt. We had a few years there working side by side in the same office where we didn’t spend any quality time talking CFH. An opportunity wasted in retrospect as I believe CFH could do with a lot more discussion and development.

Where were Cars For Hope when I needed them most?

When I was down in the hole I wondered why CFH hadn’t reached out to me. I wondered why my friend Berty from CFH didn’t reach out to me. My last memory of Berty was being a referee, talking to a recruitment agency on the phone for half an hour waxing lyrical about how amazing Berty was as he was going for a job with the NRMA (he got that job too!).

When I spoke to Berty recently to question him about his absence, he let me know that he got messages from people in the automotive community who were concerned for me. I’m like; “why the fuck didn’t you pass those messages on to me Berty?!”. At one stage I finally did go to the CFH web site looking for help. I saw the “FIND HELP” button and clicked it, it loads a wall of text suggesting CFH aims to provide a bridge, but CFH rinses it’s hands of any legal responsibility, so instead, please call the recommended hotlines below, but keep in mind CFH also clears itself from any responsibility the hotlines may provide.

I just shut the browser window. Calling my mother was impossible when I was down in a hole, let alone calling some random on a hotline.

Building a better bridge.

There’s a story section on the CFH web site and from what I’ve read, it’s great except I’m a bit iffy on stories being written by anonymous people, some of which have hidden their age too. I’ve noticed hardly any comments on any of the stories, that’s a bit worrying considering engagement could be life saving on the topic of depression.

If CFH intends to be a bridge, where was my bridge? Can there be a better bridge?

Nothing worse than wrapping up a feature on the topic of depression with “well that’s a wrap, be safe kids!”. I’ve reached out to Berty to organise a real life meeting with the CFH team. I’m hopeful that will happen soon. More importantly I’m hoping that by publishing this we can generate some legitimate ideas and solutions to form a better bridge. Perhaps a Twitch CFH Channel where there could be a real human being on chat for a few hours/week or month, just to… well, chat! Personally I’d love to contribute my time and energy into chatting in some sort of open discussion/open forum with the CFH community.

On a small/er note; I believe CFH should be careful with corporate language; “Trust us, it’s worth it.”, “limited edition kit” and “We’re going to show the world that carsforhope is louder than self-injury.” reek of corp. talk. We spend so much time and energy navigating words which try to get the better of us, when looking for help it would be nice to land somewhere soft but real.

Also on Medium:

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With David and Lighting Resi.

The first old face I got to catch up with, thanks Michael for the chat and the shade!

Comparing old man bellies!

LOL! Holy shit Sam. I only just found this via a social media tag: – I love it! Thanks SO much Sam for letting me chew your ear off, for the ADVAN T, for getting me out of the house and back again!!!

Posted in Cars, Zen Garage | Comments Off on GOT THE FOX OUT!



Whilst I can’t quite say that we never compromise with all things ZEN, the truth is we quite often have to, but if we do have to we like to compromise with a little “c”, not a capital “C”!

It’s finally live. Why did it take so long for me to publish this case study? Who was I protecting? What was I scared of? This is a case study I wrote the day the Need For Speed NFSZEN project was done in November 2015. It’s now live:

Also on Medium:


Whiteline Tarmac Rallysprint Series – Round 4




























Spent Valentines supporting ZEN Sponsored Driver David Dalrymple who entered the WTAC ZEN Garage BNR32 in Round 4 of the Whiteline Tarmac Rallysprint Series at Sydney Motorsport Park. ZEN sniper Sam Law picked me up at around 3PM, we then sat in traffic on the M5 for a good 1.5hrs (get out of the house they say…) and then we realised we were going through this traffic to get to the… tip. Awesome! Over an hour in the car with me, in traffic?! Sam’s a quiet person and I absolutely talked his left ear off!

Sun was still up when we got there, and it was absolutely smashing us. I signed on as a photographer and got given a free meal voucher, what is this? This is unreal. The smell of brakes and tyres overtook the smells from the tip, and magic hour was fast approaching as the sun went down. The rally format had car after car flying past us in very quick succession making spectating pretty damn fun (especially since we were allowed basically anywhere on the circuit as photographers).

Panning? What’s that?! Sam… what shutter speed should I be using?! I took a few shots, but let’s be honest. I had no fucking idea what I was doing.

North Shore Sporting Car Club:

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Happy B’Day Sam!

Often mistaken, my stunt doubles Sam and Salim!

Happy B’Day Sam! 39! FEK! Cheers for keeping ZEN Garage afloat whilst was down in a hole.

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Posted in Design, Zen Garage | Comments Off on ZEN TIPS

2010 Pirelli Calendar by Terry Richardson











To celebrate being banned off Facebook (twice now since I’ve been ‘back’) I thought I’d open up my drunken $600 eBay purchase, a genuine numbered copy of the 2010 Pirelli Calendar by my fave rock star Photographer, the one and only Terry Richardson. I’ve decided to shoot each page. Just a few teasers above, will post the lot soon!

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Posted in Design, Zen Garage | Comments Off on #zentiptoself

Facebook is Killing Your Website


I’ve mostly enjoyed marketing on Facebook over the past decade. With ZEN Garage (est. 2011) we’ve had high highs and low lows but right now, we’re at our lowest low.

When Facebook added us to their “recommended” lists, they showed us that we could reach millions of potential customers each week through this medium, but like many ‘too good to be true’ things, it all went pear shaped pretty damn quickly; the boosting came to an abrupt end which then forced us to pay to reach the larger audience we had acquired.

Transparency as a theme for life is still very much in motion for me. Lately I’ve been posting on the ZEN Garage business page in a more personal manner; as me, one person, and not as a brand, company or whatever entity that some people might expect us to be.

Some of our recent shared posts have reached over 40k people, our own original content is getting anywhere from 2,000–15,000 and the engagement percentages are high. It’s amazing how much feedback I’ve gotten from the diverse posts made. Considering we left Facebook for a year and have only just come back on in the past month shows that the medium still helps you to reach a lot of people.

Ideally I’d like to run ZEN in the same way I run my Facebook profile. To run ZEN more personal than business. What would happen if I shut the ZEN Garage Facebook Page and instead ran ZEN from my own personal Facebook profile? All of this got me thinking about how Facebook could actually be hurting my business in the following ways:

– Facebook takes traffic away from blogs and hosted sites.

– Facebook requires that you cater to your audience, rather than allowing you to shape your audience.

– Facebook has too much control over content and marketing.

– You’re building an empire on someone else’s land

– Facebook connects you/your business with people you don’t actually want to market to.

– Facebook fans consist of people who actually aren’t customers anyway.

– Facebook can create a negative brand image of you from people posting negative crap on your page.

OK, so the negative points above are pretty damn depressing, but in reality it depends on how you look at it and how you choose to make it work for yourself. Right now we’re gaining in traffic. People are liking, commenting, and visiting. We’re getting traction and that’s a good thing.

Also; I enjoy Facebook, so really, wearing my marketing hat whilst on Facebook isn’t so hard, especially since I’m not trying to be anything but myself!

In conclusion: So should we delete our Business Facebook Page?

Probably not.

Posted in Design, Zen Garage | Comments Off on Facebook is Killing Your Website